Nepal Holds Asia’s First Gay Sports Festival

Over 250 queer athletes competed in the first South Asian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Sports Festival in Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal.

Organizers billed it as Asia’s first gay sports tournament, although as the New York Daily News points out: “New Zealand and Australia host the ‘Asia-Pacific Outgames’, another multi-sports gay event.”

Some 1,500 spectators filed into Dasharath Stadium for the opening ceremony of the three-day event, Reuters reports, featuring out American gold medalist Greg Louganis, who is in the country supporting the rights of sexual minorities.

Homosexuality is still taboo in the primarily Hindu nation since the fall of the Maoist regime in 2006, though the LGBT community has become increasingly liberated.

In 2007, Nepal legalized homosexuality and introduced laws protecting the rights of LGBT people. Then in 2011, a third gender was added to the country’s census. And this summer, the resort town of Pokhara – 200 miles outside Kathmandu – held a pride parade. The new Nepalese constitution will reportedly include same-sex marriage.

“Personal attitudes in the conservative society are slowly changing. It is a good thing,”said Sunil Babu Pant, founder of LGBT advocacy group, the Blue Diamond Society.

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